As the Global Week of Prayer for North Korea has kicked off yesterday, Open Doors urges to focus on the Chinese authorities’ brutal treatment of North Korean refugees.
North Korean has continued to be stricken by poverty and exploitation of human rights associated with the regime of North Korean dictator Kim Jung-II. Thousands of North Koreans have fled to neighboring China in an attempt to ultimately reach the safety of South Korea, but China authorities tended to mistreat the refugees, according to Open Doors.
Open Doors draws concern over the breach of Chinese government against the 1951 United Nations Convention on the Status of Refugees. China has agreed to grant the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) access to the region between China and North Korea, where most of the refugees are hiding, and allow the UNHCR a role in determining the status of the refugees.
"Since the beginning of 2005, the Chinese have been picking up and repatriating about 400 to 500 people a week," says one American aid worker. The fate of repatriated North Koreans is very miserable; most of them will be either immediately executed for their crime or being tortured in the detention camp.
Therefore, on behalf of the North Korea Freedom Coalition, Open Doors USA launched a Fax and Pray Campaign To Save North Korean Refugees. Christians are encouraged to fax a letter to Zhou Wenzhong, Chinese Ambassador to the United States to protest the systematic and violent repatriation of thousands of North Korean refugees by the Chinese government.
"This is another way we can advocate on behalf of those who have no status or freedoms, including the freedom of religion," says Open Doors USA Advocacy Coordinator Lindsay Vessey. "Join the North Korea Freedom Coalition members in protesting the inhuman treatment of North Korean refugees."
The campaign coincides with the inter-agency Global Prayer for North Korea on Jun. 19-25. At least 18 international agencies including Christian Solidarity Worldwide, The China Aid Association, Open Doors, Promise Keepers and the National Association of Evangelicals (USA) are participating.
The China Aid Association (CCA), one of the co-organizers of the prayer campaign, says Chinese Christians will pray in solidarity with North Korean "brothers" in a previous interview.
Despite the Chinese authorities’ effort in persecuting the North Korean refugees, president of CCA Rev. Bob Fu said that Chinese house church leaders residing near the Korean border in northeast China often provide shelter for them, risking their lives and the safety of their families.
"We're not only mobilizing the Chinese and American churches here in the United States, but collaborating with the Chinese house churches within China," Fu stated. According to Fu, those in the Chinese House churches are especially willing to offer their prayers to North Korean believers, since they too have suffered persecution at the hands of a repressive regime for the last five decades.
"The Bible tells us to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. I believe that the [Chinese] house church believers have the alliance in spirit with the persecuted believers in North Korea," he said. "That is a natural spiritual alliance. The many believers from North Korea who are fleeing into China are not being seen as refugees and migrant, but as spiritual brothers with the same type [of] dreams."